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Music & Culture

Zukor and Zuckerberg

For those of you who don’t know me – I’m now in college. Yes, I’m starting late, I’m 24. But my dream of being an actress was extinguished when I experienced firsthand the darkness of Hollywood. I’ve realized that knowledge and the experience of college is more important than being a model or a star, at least for me.

I’m majoring in communications and I absolutely love it! The media-obsessed world that I used to be caught up in? Now I can sit back and analyze it critically. I not only study about mass media and society but also something that I have a passion for – the movies and their origins.

Ever wonder who “started” Hollywood? Meet Adolph Zukor, a poor Hungarian immigrant who came to Hollywood in the early 1900s with a vision for the future. From this vision he founded Paramount Pictures and the movie business as we know it. Brad Pitt? Katherine Heigl? They’re all part of the “star system” that Zukor started.

He cleverly set up a way to track each movie actor’s fan base. The actor’s ‘demand’ is what allowed them to reap tremendous profits – upping their salaries to $15,000 (a lot of money for an actor back then).

In the following years, four actors (including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford) created United Artists as a way of protecting themselves from the profit-obsessed studios who frequently limited their ability to show off all of their natural creative talents. These four actors went on to produce movies that shined at the box office and continually drew in a large fan base.

Why am I telling you this (aside from the obvious point that it’s kind of interesting!)? Because the movie industry has really suffered in recent years. In the September issue of Forbes Magazine I read that mainstream movies in theatres are now lucky if they bring in $12 million (I know! That’s it?!).

Where are all the moviegoers? Apparently many people aren’t inspired to go to the movie theaters anymore. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I saw a really powerful preview and immediately locked the release date in my mind and couldn’t wait ‘til l I was in my seat watching the magic on the big screen!

I guess that’s why I enjoyed The Social Network so much. See, there’s an idea. The movie was a success because it summed up what everyone cares about this day and age. It didn’t hurt that it was a true story (Mark Zuckerberg is a genius). I bet if Zukor were alive today and saw the star system as we know it -churning out the same actors over and over because media giants assume they’ll be “box office draws” – he would not only be disappointed, but would come up with another genius innovation to get Hollywood back on its feet.

The reality is that most people are more likely to get excited about logging into their Facebook account and updating their profiles, poking, and connecting with their friends instead of going to the movies. At least I know that’s more than true for me (well, not about poking but you know what I’m getting at 😉 ).

What do you think? Why is the industry tanking?

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2 Comments

  1. Posted by on April 13, 2011 at 16:23

    I agree with christy. Also, nobody really has the time to go “out” anymore. Yeah, there’s Friday, Saturday, and Sunday but if you’re lazy like me you enjoy it inside with friends. Not having to get all dressed up and fancy (even if it’s your thing). I do however love a good drive-in-movie. But, I rarely see those around nowadays.

  2. Posted by on March 14, 2011 at 18:23

    netflix, hulu, youtube, and all of the movie sites out there allow you to watch new releases instantly so you don’t have to go to the theaters and pay $10 to watch either a cheesy movie or a movie that you love till the next thing comes out. it’s actually pretty sad. the theater experience is something a lot of people love yet can’t find time to do or even can’t afford.